CHENNAI: AFTER the 3-0 drubbing against Bengaluru FC and yet another abysmal start to the season, Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory announced that it was probably time for a change at the helm.
The Englishman’s frustration was understandable, considering they managed just a point from four games and also the last-place finish in the previous season. But ahead of their home game against Hyderabad FC on Monday, Gregory looked like a man reborn and said that he was optimistic about reviving Chennaiyin’s season.
In fact, he revealed that his position as head coach was not even discussed when he sat down for a chat with the club’s management. “I talk to Vita (Dani) on a regular basis. Nothing special has been said. We are just focused on what’s coming up. Nothing else will distract us,” he said.
It now looks like the 65-year-old’s comments after the Bengaluru FC game were just an emotional reaction. “Going into the BFC game, I was very relaxed and confident that we will get a good result and I was somewhat shell-shocked after the match and our performance.”
The former Aston Villa manager was also bold in taking the blame for Chennaiyin’s performance so far. He mentioned how the players helped each other after difficult results and believes that the rapport they share in the dressing room and on the pitch is the biggest positive for the club. One game at a time is the cliche that managers usually go for before a match. But Gregory kept stressing that six points from the next two home games can change everything.
“At the end of the day, I’m responsible for the result. It’s my responsibility to make sure we get enough points and get into playoffs. I was on the floor after the BFC match. The fans who turned up on the night drove 5-6 hours to get there and we didn’t give them too much to shout about. But since then, we’ve all picked each other up and we got back to work and that’s been the biggest plus. The way the players have been in training. They were hurting as much as I was after that particular match. And everybody is determined to get six points from the next two games that will put us right back in the race. “
As usual, Gregory was full of praise for his wards. Against Mumbai City FC and ATK, the team dominated possession and the number of passes. But stats don’t win you games. Much like last season, Chennaiyin’s problems are in the goalscoring department and they just cannot seem to catch a break when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net. And there is no better team than Hyderabad to break the duck against. Despite sitting a spot above (9th) the hosts on the table, Hyderabad has leaked 10 goals in four games so far.